From The Hobby Paul Keating
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The Irish often label folks who spend an inordinate amount of time playing or following the music as “being mad for the music” or “pure mad” when it comes to attending events built around it, especially in traditional music.
If my own experience is any evidence I suppose it is certainly true, and seemingly if this past weekend was an indicator (as well as the odometer on my car) there was a lot of madness in the air and on the horizon.
St. Patrick’s Day and other ceremonial occasions happy and sad playing what we commonly refer to as the War Pipes.
Too often overlooked is that most Irish of instruments, the uilleann (for elbow) or union pipes that symbolically inspires so much of Irish traditional music and has for centuries.
The uilleann piping fraternity doesn’t seem too pushed to claim that legacy at the forefront of Irish musicians, and seems more content to mix among themselves and enjoy -- and at times commiserate -- over the hard-labor of mastering the instrument that can be so temperamental at times, and especially in warmer or colder climes.
Nine folk artists were selected earlier this year out of 217 nominees and honored in a series of events around Washington, D.C. for the newly minted 2010 National Heritage Fellows by the National Endowment for the Arts for their contributions to traditional arts in America.
It included a native-born Irishman who is one of the most popular Irish traditional musicians here, Mike Rafferty of Larraga, Ballinakill, Co. Galway who turned 84 years of age last week after returning triumphantly to his long-time home in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey.